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2011 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Education. (2011) Eric Alterman; Garrett Graff; Katrina Vanden Heuvel ('Obama Two Years In.') New.

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Libya 9, Washington 9, United States 8, Paul Ryan 7, Afghanistan 7, Us 7, Garrett 5, America 5, Benjamin Netanyahu 4, Kosovo 4, Obama 4, Johnson 3, Mms 3, U.n. 3, Israel 3, Los Angeles 3, Wisconsin 2, Egypt 2, Steve Clemons 2, Mr. Ryan 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    2011 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books  Education.   
   (2011) Eric Alterman; Garrett Graff; Katrina Vanden Heuvel...  

    July 16, 2011
    5:00 - 6:00pm EDT  

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>> this is about an hour. >> hello, good morning. i'm not steve clemons. [laughter] i'm nick goldberg, the editor of the editorial page at the "los angeles
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times." i was called -- [applause] am i still in los angeles? [laughter] i was called in at the last moment to moderate the panel because steve clemons can't be here. he's one of many who dropped out of the conference because it's the night of the white house correspondence dinner, and it turns out it's bad to have journalists talk about obama the night of the correspondence dinner. i'll start by doing something -- can you hear me? i'll start by doing something mean which i'm starting by reading something that garrett to my left wrote a few years ago, and -- >> i have no idea what that it going to be. [laughter] >> it's nothing embarrassing, but reminds us all what we thought what president obama was
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legislated, and then i'll introduce the panelists. back in 2006, he wrote the following, "no one heard of the skinny chicago state senator and institutional law professor. now all bets are off. >> he won a grammy
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for his memoir, which spent a year no >> the inside is signed by its previous occupants. with that, here we are today. conservatives, as we all know as late as last week, conservatives are still questioning where the president's born. what's more shocking is the degree to which progressives that are some degree overrepresented on this panel are disappointed because obama hasn't -- [laughter] hasn't turned out to be exactly the president they expected. the issues are numerous. you know, obama has failed to one degree or another to -- i'm sorry?
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>> [inaudible] [inaudible conversations] >> the president has failed to undo the bush national security state -- failed to close guantanamo and failed to take up the issues of jobs. we know the criticisms, but i hope today we can have a serious discussion about whether progressives are justified in their disappointment in obama, about how many is obama's fault, how much is the fault of the republicans, how much is the fault of the filibuster. if obama is right when he says let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and with that, i'll turn it over to garrett. his first book was called "first
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campaign" examining the role of technology in the 2008 campaign. his second book is just coming out called "the threat matrix -- the fbi in the age of global terror." that was out last month, you said? good. why don't you open it up for us. [applause] >> well, as be fitting my seat on the stage, i think as i started in politics working on howard deen's presidential campaign, and i represent the far right wing of the panel today [laughter] i think that the first two years of obama in a lot of ways gives truth to the old political saying that one campaigns in poetry and governs in prose and that the lesson that i think obama has learned in many hard ways over the last two years is that governing is a lot harder
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than talking about governing and that as much as we like to think that's closing guantanamo would be an easy thing to do, it turns out that for all sortings of reasons, only some of which are related to the republican party, it's not, and that's a subject that i've spent a lot of time working on over the last two years as i've been researching this book on the fbi, and so i've followed a lot more of obama's national security plans and strategies and evolutions than i have some of the other issues which i think cay -- katrina will talk about. we've seen obama busted by global events out of his control, coming in, of course,
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when he did with the financial crisis up until the last couple of weeks, the unrest in the arab world and the earthquake in japan that one of the challenges that i think has also become clear is how little of a presidency is up to a president, and that much of what happens during a president's term is about reacting to events rather than necessarily creating the events as we might have wanted him to. what i think -- and then i'll pass it on down the road here -- what concerns me more than sort of where obama is or where the republican party is is i think we are entering an era in politics where the thing that concerns me the most is that we are no longer serious about solving the big problem, and
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that was sort of the subject of my first book in 2007 looking ahead to the 2008 presidential race, and the big issues in education and health care, in energy, in the environment, jobs, and so on, and i think that you can really see that playing out in washington right now as we have this debate about the budget, and that this budget date in so many ways has become about paul ryan and his plan and his thinking of the budget, but that the idea that we as a nation can all agree that there is one guy in washington talking seriously about the budget is an indictment of everyone else in congress who is not, that we're sort of at this appointment where, oh, you want to talk about the budget? there's one guy who is taking this seriously. he's the one thinking about how to solve the budget problem, and, you know, these are huge
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issues. i mean, generational issues that are going to have to be solved one way or the other, and the fact that there is not a larger debate that involves more people on both sides of the aisle i think is a stunning indictment of where we are in a political process. >> thank you, garrett. i think the debate in this country -- >> maybe i should take a second to introduce you. >> don't waste the time. [laughter] [applause] >> i'm editor in chief of the nation, i'm sorry. [laughter] >> the lady needs no introduction. >> i'll take her introduction time. [laughter] >> yeah, i just have a magazine. no, i think there's fundmental debates in the country, but the disdirect of the debatings in washington and what's going on in the country is radically disconnected as we've seen in the decades. that's some of the problem that
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obama has to address and has not addressed. let me step back for a moment if i could. i met president obama once. all he said to me when he found out i was editor of the nation was -- [inaudible] [laughter] [inaudible] it would not be much of a left -- [inaudible] with that said, you know, i wanted to make the case that president obama in his first two years did pass two very land mark pieces of legislation, the health care legislation and the financial reform legislation, but they were not with the scale as scope of the problems this country faces. part of that was a failure of leadership i'd argue, but also the structural problems that have made our system dysfunctional or not serving people because, and this is what
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erick's book is about -- the power of money in the system, the power of lobbyists. the power of those forces to dilute legislation and a republican party that admitted openly its main task was to destroy president obama and the health care bill, in my memory, tell me if i'm wrong, the first major piece of social legislation in the last 40-50 years was the first piece of legislation to pass without a single republican vote. that said, that's important. i also think that the stimulus, the recovery was deluded because of republican pressure and the timidity of many democrats, and then the failure as garrett talk about, the failure to message it was a recovery program allowed too much of a media that doesn't serve the people to conflate that recovery program with the bailout of the banks so that it led to the emergence of a right
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wing popular movement and a justified anger that the recovery was not sufficient again for the scale of the economic crisis, and as we see today as we sit here, president obama, because of the deluded piece of reform legislation resuscitated, but did not restructure the financial sector so that the banks are more powerful than ever, hyperleveraged, do not serve the people, and remain masters of the universe. that is very dangerous and the corporate money in our system, unprecedented amount, post citizens united will continue to dome in this case our society. i think one of the central mistakes president obama made was demobilizing those who supported him, and it's not just progressives or the left, but a
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fairly broad based coalition of people, african-american women, and others with a conscious because to have -- and this is if he's truly a pragmatic president, you want that women -- whim that you're back, and that has been the history of our country's truly transformational change when you have the ability of movement from below to push and pressure presidents whether it is abraham lincoln as our board member erick writes so beautifully in the book, those abolitionists of that time pushed president lincoln beyond the limits of his own politics, but that is not what we're seeing now because of the demobilization of the base. too small, not small, but team of rivals. you know, president obama spoke about in the spirit of the team
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of rivals, but he didn't bring in a team of rivals. you didn't have that voice. even clinton's administration, robert reich didn't have the vis, and there's the voices of people, and those voices that majority polls show us say the real crisis is not a deficit crisis, but o jobs crisis. that's not well represented inside the halls corridor of power. afghanistan, you know, if we listened to president obama during the campaign, and i was one who said that,ing you know, progressives need to be tough and pragmatic about president obama as he is about us, he spoke about afghanistan as the good war, and he did that because he needed to show because of the national security state grip on our politics, until we find a way to end that, a president remains captive to a large extent. he had to show he was tough.
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i think now what's going on in this country is you have the ability, polls are snapshots, but on a number of core issues, afghanistan, corporate powers and others, there's majorities of people who want a way out of afghanistan, who believe corporate power is too strong in this country, and a president with leadership could seize that. it's not too late, and find a way to build politics around that. thinking of president johnson, wars kill, reform presidencies. president obama is a reform, maybe deluded, too limited, but in these areas, a reform president. it's imperative now for citizens, progressives, liberals, citizens of conscious to organize my independently and to find ways to drag issues into the next election, but more generally build the coalitions that will give space to those
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progressive politicians in our system working with people, power, to make the changes we need, and we saw that, we're seeing that even as somebody just told me this morning there's more attempts to roll back collective bargaining, but the spirit of madison, wisconsin, there's losses, but there's progress, zigs and zags. the process to roll back i think is something that crystallized attention and made people sit up and wake up. we're seeing it in town halls across the country. we'll see more of it, not just paul ryan, but what people understood to be the fundmental pillars of this society and that's what citizens working with progressives inside the elected halls of this country can make change. thank you.
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[applause] >> may i briefly introduce you? >> briefly, yeah, no more than 20 minutes. [laughter] >> he's a proafertion of epg lish and he's the author of many, many books, i don't know, eight, ten, twelve at this point, but the latest one according to what i found is the system versus barak obama which is just out now? >> yeah. >> that's it. that's the intrough. [laughter] >> okay. i'll do the rest. nick was worried that this panel would be insufficiently controversial between the panelists, so i'll do what i can about that. first i'm going to have a short argument with myself. [laughter] then i'm going to have an argument with garrett, and then i'll try to implicate nick somehow. >> notice katrina pays a salary
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and keeps controversy from eric. >> high two figures. [laughter] >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> so i feel kind of like sibil on this panel. i can say that without too much explanation. [laughter] in my own head i have four competing arguments about obama that i'm not completely surf which one -- it depends on the day. they derive from really four seats i occupy in terms of my work right now. one is just what katrina mentioned, it's personal. he had me over for dinner five years ago when he just became a senator, and i had never been so impressed with a politician in my life, and i was so moved by this new generation of black leadership. i hope that one day my daughter who has just turned 13 might be
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able to vote for this man for president, and it just seemed to me, you know, i didn't know at the time his middle name was hussein, and it's a miracle that that guy is president three years later. i have a lot of trouble imagining anyone, even today after all my disappointments, could be president of the united states who is as smart and committed to the values and world views that i hold, and i'm sure there's disagreements, but still it's just -- i mean, you know, that was 2005. bush had just got reelected somehow, and when you think about it, it's incredible. i like the guy a lot. i mean, i'm sure a lot of you were just crying when grant park that night, you know, that night. okay. that's part one. part two is this morning actually i was writing the obama chapter of a book i've been working on for eight years, a history of post war american
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liberalism to be out next year called the cause, and the fact is is liberalism is a lot more marginal than we like to think it is. franklin roosevelt came to power in an extraordinary situation. johnson came to power in an extraordinary situation. it's not that easy to find liberal moments between those two times where the country agreed on the goals and was willing to move forward and make progress in the way that we would define progress. it's a much tougher hall than most people who hold these values as i do understand, and so in that respect the fact that, i mean, it's significant that teddy roosevelt proposed national health insurance in 1912, and every democratic president since truman tried to pass it, and barak obama somehow passed it, and there's a lot of
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weaknesses to it, but it's not nothing. i mean, his presidency, the first two years of his presidency was the most consequential democratic presidency in 50 years. it's not chopped liver. i don't like chopped liver, but -- [laughter] so that's point two. now, that point leads to the argument that i make in my book kabuki democracy that i'll sign after the panel. [laughter] which is about this system, and the system is so what i call the system which has a lot of components and part of it is bill filibuster and part is the legacy of the most corrupt, incompetent and ideologically obsessed presidency of the past 150 years minimum. what this world needs is a good comparison tween the buchanan presidency and the bush presidency to decide if he's the worst president ever. there was so much to be done if
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you look at the way -- if you just look at the way we were set up to handle the oil spill and the mms. no one heard of the mms. the only reason they were ever in the newspapers before the oil spill was because people would be dealing crystal meth out of the offices the mms in exchange for sex. there's not a single newspaper in america that had a report dedicated to covering the mms, and then when something happens which you need the government for, the government's not there. you saw it in katrina, you saw this there. you saw it in the regulation of the financial industry. you saw it by the way in baghdad when we invaded the country, we had no plans, and millions of people displaced, hundreds of thousands killed, ben billions of dollars wasted because the people who ran the government for eight years had no respect for government, and eight years of that leaves a lot of legacy which the obama administration had to deal with, but the two main problems, and i won't focus on them because katrina did a
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good job that make being a progressive president impossible today is the power of money which is more powerful today than two years ago, and it was plenty powerful two years ago. i quote dick durbin saying frankly the banks own the place -- talking about the senate. the power of the conservative media to distort and make impossible a sensible discussion of the problems. when you have a difficult issue like the health care bill or cap-and-trade legislation, you talk about whether or not you want to kill your grandma and is that a good idea or will the government arrest you if you put your thermostat over 72. i know you people don't have that problem here, but we have it in new york. i have a great deal of sympathy for a guy trying to talk sense to the american people to treat us like adults and make these difficult tradeoffs in a context where there's no respect for that kind of thing in our society where he has to go after
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being asked about it on "good morning, america" he has to show his birth certificate because a good majority of republicans don't believe he was born in this country. it's difficult to govern in that context on the one hand. on the other hand, another project i've been working on as of late is a series of columns i wrote in "the nation" that i might put into a small book called the conservative class war. wealthy conservatived joined by religious conservatives, and others with grievances that fell into the movement have launched an attack on the role that the government plays for the poor and the middle class so first they created their own media institutions and intellectual institutions to replace what had been the previous
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establishment. then they went after the tax code so now the wealthiest 1% of the country have more than double the amount of wealth that they have relative to everybody else. they owned 8% of the assets to 20% of our assets. in the past 30 years, the top 1% has enjoyed 20% of the gains of the economy, the top 10% enjoyed 60% of the gains from the society, and this is all if you read paul pierson, this is all purpose. i mean, there's been global developments that have had effects on this thing, but the rest of the world this is not the case. only many america there's this degree of inequality and it's purposeful. the next phase of the conservative class war is what you see in wisconsin which is the attack on public unions as the last voice to stand up for working people. there's -- the corporations having untrampled power in the system, and the only people who
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can oppose them are the public unions so that's why they are going after the public unions. obama refuses to recognize the fact. he has this why don't we get along stuff, all this why can't we be friends? the fact is we can't. if one side fights a war and the other side has hands tied behind their back, that side is going to do well, and we see that in the notion in washington that the only person talking about sensible government with regard to the budget is mr. ryan. he is not talking about sensible government in the sensible government in washington. mr. ryan is talking about the what conservative media pretend essential government is. the fact is if you take ryan's own numbers, this is an example. i took this out of respect for nick if he wants to fight. if you pick ripe's numbers, he does nothing about the deficit for 10 years and stays on the
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same course it's on. it destroys medicare, and it gives a tax break to the wealthy and increases tax breaks to the wealthy that they have, and it's destroys medicare, one of the key components of the social welfare that makes this country -- i'm not an economy ices, but a friend of mine has a nobel prize in economics, and he says the only serious attack on the long term entitlement budget deficit is the progressive budget. is that what it's called in congress? people's budget. yeah. he has a nobel prize and says the only serious one is the people's budge. i'll take his word for it. the fact in washington that you have this notion that only paul ryan is serious, well, what does he do? destroys medicare to give more money to the wealthy who had the best 40 years in the history of
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this country. that's what obama doesn't want to recognize. obama's budget is absolutely worse than the simpson-bowles budget for taking $3 out of every dollar is raises in revenue. obama's is worse than that. this conservative ora created this notion that to be serious, you have to attack poor people and enrichard natonski people, and -- enrich rich people, and that to me is the problem. [applause] >> [inaudible] >> sure. >> so i wasn't necessarily endorsing paul ryan's budget. [laughter] >> you said it's the only serious budget. you said that. only one guy being serious. >> are you tried to get the guy lynched? [laughter] >> this happened last time, i was the only person who didn't get applause on the panel in los angeles.
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[laughter] >> yeah, but give him an applause. [laughter] [applause] >> what i meant more on paul ryan is that resort of used for ryan or whatever your issue, as shorthand for starting the debate base there is, i think, particularly in washington a sense that there is not serious thinking about these big issues that we are so focused on the day-to-day politics, sort of the cable news winning the day, winning the battle, winning the short term that these big problems are coming down the pike, and we're not talking about them and we're not working on them, and so when one person does begin to do that as paul ryan is with the budget, we sort of end up defaulting to ling him own that debate and, you know,
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there's an interesting divide, i think, in the way we talk about this that you have a republican congressman and the president of the united states sort of debating this back and forth with almost no one else in the picture. >> but see that's, i mean, the people's budget is a very serious budget put forth by members of the caucus, 83 strong, and what's striking about it is the nation made it its lead editorial, and paul did a column about it, but it's not just fox news, and eric writes about this. dana wrote one of the snarkiest comment in years. the people's budget conveyed on unhelpful association with the people's republic of china and other socialist undertaking. now, when you do that, you have immediately margin thallized the possibility of people taking what is a serious budget about a
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robust social safety net, about taxes for the rich, taxes, cutting the doves budget, all -- defense budget, all important, but marginalized in a debate in washington. ryan becomes the prince because his view is accord, but what's interesting to me is they worked well inside washington with the republican elite, but take it out on the road, you're seeing not just progressives, but people say, what? you know, you're not -- you can take away my medicare and my children's? one problem over arching in this is the royal of the government. -- role of the government. there was a 2010 survey done by a cornell scientist and 40% surveyed didn't know medicare
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was a government program. [laughter] it's so embedded in people's lived experiences that explaps the tea party's keep government off my medicare. [laughter] >> let me change the subject for a minute. i want to ask about libya. on the one hand it's unbelieve l this president, of all presidents in the aftermath of the bush administration has managed to embroil us in a new war before completing two wars we're currently involved in. on the other hand, he's saying this is a kind war, a war that's being waged in the name of multilateralism, in the name of humanitarianism and protecting citizen. i'm curious what the three of you think about that. is it a war to support, is it a war at all? >> i think that libya's fascinating because from my stand point i think it's actually the most dangerous war
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the united states has ever been involved in because what you're gipping to see in libya is thanks to technology, the ability of the united states to go to war without putting any american lives at risk, that we can launch tomahawk missiles, involves no boots on the ground, and that that -- when you look at what keeps a nation from going to war, it is the sense that you have to put blood and treasure on the line in a war, that you have to send americans into harm's way, and if we are now able to go to war without putting any blood in the process, not that i think -- we should be sending americans to be killed in libya -- not endorsing that either, but that
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in my mind what's dangerous about libya is the advances in technology have made it possible for us now to go to war without risking anything. >> how is that different than kosovo? not a single american died in kosovo. >> not a single american died in kosovo, but we had troops actively engaged. >> no, we didn't. it was entirely an air war. >> but we're not even using airplanes in libya right now. >> yeah, but if there's not antiaircraft guns -- in other words, we went to war, nobody died, so how's it different? >> what's different is that we did have to commit -- there was a chance that, you know, we were going to lose american lives. we could have lost pilots, and then we did put troops opts ground as part of the peace keeping force in kosovo, and that what worries me about libya is there's no reason for us not to go to war if all we're
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putting on the ground is treasure. >> katrina, you go ahead. >> the issue of drones in foreign policy is a very dangerous policy because i mean, president obama used and deployed drones, you know, i think 192 tames. he's escalated it -- bush did not use drones, but that's, i mean, the large or framework is seeing the expanding of the national security statings but there's attempting to cut the defense budget not to be dismissed because it's an opening to look at that, but it's the expansion of the u.s -- i don't love the word, but the empire. i mean, the bases grow. you have now africom. nato is an instrument that should have been abolished after the cold war, but we're embroiled not swrus in libya, dangerous on a number of grounds
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because it violated the u.n. security resolution almost immediately. i'm for the u.n.. i think that resolution was an important one, but if abused, it has the potential to also diminish and gut and already attacked and threatened institution, the u.n.. it changes the narrative in the extraordinary events in the arab world where you have a sense of people making their own history, and now the west is back in there, france, the u.k., the united states, the overarching thing in my mind that president obama may not have had the courage to do for a various of reasons. there's always a fear of another attack and what that means politically in this country is another 9/11, but to make the case we must make this war on terror. this is not a war. what happened after 9/11 should have been a response of policing other intelligence, and even
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secretary gates and as you recall any adviser that adviced a president who put troops in afghanistan and iraq should have his head examined. >> this is kind of a sack religious thing to say, but i don't know everything. [laughter] i don't know if libya will be a good or bad idea. i know that he should have gone to congress and got congressional resolution. that i'm sure about. the thing is, you know, i'm told if we had not done that, there would have been a massacre. >> who thinks it was a good idea to stay out of rwanda. wars exist for a reason. that's not a good response to hit that fact. this would have been a massacre. there would have been a massacre of honest people that we could prevent. spbt that what power is for?
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i'm not saying it's the right decision overtime, i don't know that they have a good plan, but i know they are not evil people. i know that power is someone i respect and admire and understand a lot of the dangers here and i feel absolutely the same way about president obama. i would have made a different decision with afghanistan and gone with biden's plan, but i don't know everything, and they know things i don't know. the fact is the choice is not between war and peace. the choice is between war and massacre in many case, and i'm hopeful that this will turn out to prevent a massacre and war at the same time. it may not, but none of us know that, and it's just anti-intellectual, and it's kind of a moral base to agent if you know that one evil is better than the other evil because it's impossible to know that. [applause]
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>> more applause. >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> one final question, and then we'll open it to the audience. looking forward to 2012, you know, with this possibility of a takeover of all three branches of government thee theoretically by the republicans, can democrat afford to squabble? you know, is this the time to be closing the ranks and supporting the president or, you know, how -- how much fighting can progressives have over the next couple of years? [laughter] >> i mean, i think i wouldn't use the word fighting, nick. i think what you do is you work to drive issues into the political debates such as it is. on afghanistan, you know, jim mcgovern from massachusetts, good congressman and walter
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joans traveling in states to raise the issue of afghanistan. you do it to give space to issues, not to tackle president obama, but to say put this, you know, you got to pick this up. you got to -- we're trying to change what we believe is a policy underminding your possibility as a reform president. we work hard to elect more progressive people in the congress m i'm not for primariment i think it is a destructive responsibility in 2012. you build in 2016, work to elect as many progressives into the congress and state legislatures. i think so much of the action right now in order to prevent the assault and to stop some of the class war, conservative class war you talk about is at the state level while a lot of attention needs to be paid -- i think president obama has been given a gift with paul ryan's gift and i think he's giving the
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gift with a republican field that is more and more looking like that scene in "star wars" at the bar. [laughter] >> you know, they are releasing the blue ray of all -- blu-ray episodes right before the election. [laughter] >> i would sort of echo what katrina is saying with the added point that i actually think obama has a relatively reelection bid ahead of him between the powers of the presidency as an incumbent, between just an enormous sum of money he's going to have. he is going to have, i think most observers agree, a billion dollar war chest, and that the amount of tv and staffs and volunteer organizations that that buys is pretty massive in
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addition to, i think, the simple fact that demographics are now on the side of the democratic party over the next generation, that young people continue to vote heavily for democrats and that the minority population in the united states which is disproportionatly democratic, and in the shoample if those people -- short term if those people vote, it's an easy election for obama. the question is if those people end up voting. >> i think that's a bigger problem than a lot of people do. i'm not so sure obama's going to get reelected. the up employment's not going down anymore. the fed is, you know, is not in the mind set to stimulate the economy any further, and he's
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never been that concerned about jobs # in the first place. the problem of japan in the supply lines has not shown up yet, but it will and stall a significant portion of the price. housing prices are collapsing again now that those programs are gone. it really depends on whether or not -- two things, can the republicans no , nominate someone who strikes the american people as sane. [laughter] even the people who used to be sane are agenting crazy for the purpose of getting the nomination. i don't mean newt gingrich. he was always crazy, but like tim palenti, when he was on john stuart, he struck me as a nice fellow and reasonable guy, but now he's saying crazy stuff. the question is can you -- will they come back from that? what seems to be happening is they are setting up mitch
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daniels to be their guy, and the press loves him, and he will strike everybody as sane, yet he has dope the things he needs to keep the party together, and he'll be a tough opponent. as far as the demographics, well, i think minorities and young people are going to be the hardest people to turn out after the disappointments between 2008 and 2012. i think, you know, a lot of people -- look, george bush was so horrible that -- and, again, the idea of electing an african-american named barack hussein obama was so amazing that we can forgive ourselves of whatever illusions we had up to election day. i certainly forgive myself, but the fact is that he, the greatest criticism i make of obama is -- because, again, i wrote a book called system
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against obama. we have to fight to change the system. as a quick aside, there's a quote in the book i lifted from another book from one of obama's advisers in chicago when he was a -- city counselman or something -- what was he? state senator, running for his first state senate office, and the other guy who makes and breaks state senators says, you know,son, you have to learn when you can't get the whole hog, you need to take the ham sandwich. obama is taking every ham sand -- sandwich he can get. the problem is there's not enough ham. never inflict kosher bacon -- [laughter] we need more ham in the sand witches, fight to get more ham in the sandwiches, and young people and minorities have not
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gotten much ham in this at all. they got a big sandwich of nothing. they won't be there at all, and the second thing is i have a theory that's unprovable that the night obama won the election in 2008 is the night he appears with rick warren. he said i don't agree with what he all says, but he's already. if you look at the numbers in 2008, the republicans stayed home more than the democrats turned out because they didn't think testifies the anti-christ, but now they think he is, and so they'll turn out again. it's not clear that obama's face is going to turn out, and it's going to be a tough election which is why it's all the more crazy that people like nader are still getting somebody to challenge him either as an independent or within the democratic party. that's how incumbents lose
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because they are challenged from within. carter was challenged by kennedy. johnson challenged and beaten. the easiest way to lose a presidency is to have to fight two battles at once. as much as i -- even if i disagree with obama and thought hefsz terrible, i would be as katrina says building for 2016. >> okay. with that, opening it up to questions from the audience. you can ask about the presidency, about eric's dietary restrictions -- [laughter] >> yes? >> [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible]
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[inaudible] [inaudible] >> i can do that. [laughter] i mean, i can do part of it. israel and american jews are one of my big issues so i pay a lot of attention to it. obama blew it in the middle east. >> [inaudible] >> sure. it was a long question though. how would one assess obama's dealings with benjamin netanyahu and what can we expect from the hamas agreement, is that it? >> and egypt. >> i don't know about egypt. he blew it in regard to the middle east, he started out as he has done too often, started out bold, made a little resis tepees, ran away, and you didn't
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see him again. he gave a great speech in cairo, the symbolism was great, the speech was great, it spoke a new day. he had -- he had the beginnings of a new movement inside american jewelry that was going to give him the space to take a much tougher position against the government that most american jews oppose which is not at all interested because if there were a peace agreement, the government would fall, so it is hypothetical to the interest, and then he got push back from the organized jewish community in the united states, and from the benjamin netanyahu government, and he didn't -- he let them win. he walked away. he said, oh, it's not going to be a cake walk, so i try to do something else. the benjamin netanyahu government showed that they can -- they don't have to make any concessions and can push him around. the republican congress will be on their side. 90% of the organized american jewish community will be on his side even though again a mar
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seniority of the americans are not. it's a similar problem to the problems in our democracy and the power of money and its outdated mind set, and so i think what happened to transition to the hamas agreement is that the authority decided well, this is not just happening. the only way for it to happen is if the united states is willing to exhibit real pressure on the israeli government to force difficult concessions, and, you know, step up to the plate. they are not going to do that. you know, benjamin netanyahu said he denapsed this agreement and said that hamas has to choose between peace with israel and peace with hamas. and the fact is that if you chose peace with israel for the past three years, you got nothing. you got nothing. you got more settlements, and you got, you know, the invasion of gaza so -- by the way, the
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whole situation was made far worse by the bush administration's attempt to manipulate the first palestinian election and overthrow that government. there was a coo inside directed by the united states. in any case, what you see between hamas and fatah is the rejection of the american role and rejection of the peace agreement any time soon. that could be a good thing. making peace with half of the palestinians is not a peace, and the other half can undermind the peace if they are not included. if you want real peace, and there's nothing needed more, you need to make it with a real palestinian government that including hamas, but it's not going to happen any time soon of the it's a matter of crisis management between now and then, and crisis management is very difficult when you have an organized jewish establishment in the country demanding that
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you, you know, be 110% israeli so it's -- in the long run, we'll all be dead, but in the medium turn this could be a good thing, but it will be painful to get from here to there. >> okay. there's a guy with a microphone over here. how about that person back there. >> thank you all for coming. on wednesday, when we woke up, we heard the announcement about the long form birth certificate, and there was a collective cry of outrage across america in the black community when president obama presented his birth certificate, and i was wondering why would he do it because i can guarantee you that no black person in america would have
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wanted him to present that birth certificate. however, i believe that -- and i would like to hear your. that it was not because of the donald trump's or the glenn becks, or any of the crazies on the right that he presented that birth ser certificate, but it was because of the liberal left progressives, you know, who would come to me and say why won't he just release his birth certificate. it would take me 235 years to explain why he should not. [laughter] >> we don't have 235 years here. >> exactly. my point is this that we -- that someone mentioned the minorities and young people are profoundly disappointed in the last two years, but it's not just with obama. i believe it's also with the progressives because there were progressives saying that, and if
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he can't get progressives to stand up, then he's in trouble. thank you. [applause] >> anybody want address that in >> to be fair there are crazy black people too. [laughter] >> alan keys is not accepting the certificate and says it's forge ji. he's black. >> i think his audience for the birth certificate was neither the left or right, but the moderates. it was a way for him to use the presidential lectern literally in the white house to raise the issue of the unserious debate in american politics that this is the -- the fact we are even still talking about this two years later shows all the other thing we're not talking about that actually matter. >> i don't know many progressives who have demanded
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president obama show the certificate, but i take to heart there's an anger in your question about progressives, criticisms of president obama, but you know what? president obama has lashed out at progressives who have criticized him, but it seems to me there's a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between those outside who support his presidency, but want to push and push him beyond the limits of what some believe are constricted politics, and there's a support in that as opposed to those on the right who want to delegitimize and oppose the presidency. i sense when i tweet, for example, something critical of president obama's policy, there was a range of anger from a range of people, but look at the policies eric spoke about, the job crisis. you know, the rates of
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unemployment has soared, and in the support of president obama there's a right kind of cultural identity support, but in terms of the raw objective facts, it seems to me that people should be agitating for a jobs policy in this country that will bring in all. we have -- it is a crisis, and the new normal should not be a 9% -- [applause] >> there's a woman way in the back on the left. >> hi. thank you for being here. what i'm concerned about is that as you look around the room, you see people that are mostly over 30 i'd say -- [laughter] that's generous, generous, and
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i'm a high school teacher, and i know my students when the last election, they didn't know who was running, and they didn't know anything about the primaries or even care. i'm wondering -- i look at the media, and i see it's so limited and to get actual information out there, you know, all of us were kind of political, you know, advocate junk kyes, but -- junkies, but the rest of the country isn't and what they hear is sensationalism and all about the celebrities, but they don't know anything about politics, and so how is it that we're going to get them involved in politics and them to have access to the issues? >> you know, there's two things that are happening in the media simultaneously right now. one is i don't have to say this in this town is the shrinkage of genuine actual news coverage.
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40% as many journalists and editors as working as five years ago and they do twice as much. it's a gerbil on the wheel because you have to tweet, blog, do video chats, walk people's pets and stuff -- [laughter] there's no time to actually find stuff out and report on it. that's one crisis. the second crisis is there is this what obama was, i think, talking about, this carnival barking stuff that is come bined with the right wing bias. it's the tabloid mentality combined with, look, they don't want to hear this -- they're leaving. [laughter] the kids are not all right. [laughter] >> on the right which you saw in the treatment of the birth certificate issue and whether or not he's a muslim and all these other things, and possibly the
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anti-christ. what happens is because the right is so financially successful. fox news is very profitable, it seeps into the mainstream media, and the media -- they report is obama muslim? you know, let's talk about it. is obama trying to turn the country into an islamic republic? i read a story that said what up spired obama to show his birth kier tiff cat was -- certificate was being asked about it two days before, and the fact is the media are not only losing people but self-confidence, and they're unable to decide what it is they think their job is anymore, and so they look to this carnival barking side, the glenn becks and rush limbaughs, and they seem to know what they are doing, have a lot of confidence, but they don't care at all what's true. fox news shows what they want to attack -- [aps